Resolution on Support for Freedom to form Unions: The Employee Free Choice Act.
Resolution on Support for Overtime Pay Protections.
Diane M. Fay, Chair
ALA-APA Standing Committee
I have had the opportunity to read emails which were posted to the ALACOUN, APACOUN, and APAUnion lists and thought that I'd share some of my thoughts on the 2 resolutions which the Standing Committee voted at midwinter to submit to the APA Council for consideration...
I am a retired 34 year employee from the Boston Public Library and during that time was an active member of the Boston Public Library Employee Local No. 1526 AFSCME. I had the pleasure of serving as a Steward, Library Assistant Representative to the Executive Board, Vice President and then President of the local. I was also the chief negotiator for a number of contracts. At the same time, I served as the Chair of the AFSCME Boston Presidents Committee representing 12 Locals within the city, negotiated the citywide collective bargaining agreement for those locals, served on the AFSCME Council 93 Executive Board representing the states of Maine, New Hampshire , Vermont and Massachusetts. I then served as the President of AFSCME Council 93, as well as, a Vice President of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. I also took part in the organizing drives at both U. Mass Worcester Medical Center and Harvard University which allowed the workers at those facilities to exercise the basic human right of deciding for themselves if they wanted to be part of a union. In addition, I attended the University of Massachusetts College of Public and Community Service majoring in Labor Studies with a concentration in legal advocacy; as well as, attending numerous courses and seminars on collective bargaining and arbitration.
Needless to say, I have a different perspective on both of the resolutions being brought forward by the committee.
ALA has always supported the basic concept of human rights .With regard to the first resolution; I see this as a basic right for workers to decide for themselves if they want to join a union. In 54.10 of the ALA Policy Manual, ALA already affirms the right of eligible library employees to organize and bargain collectively with their employers, or to refrain from organizing and bargaining collectively, without fear of reprisal. I would suggest that this is meaningless unless we also publicly state we support this basic right.
Ann is correct that when conditions are improved for the private sector the trend has been that over the years we have seen the same in the public sector. There is a flip side to this and that is when conditions deteriorate in the private sector we have also seen this eventually in the public sector. Many of our state regulations mirror those at the federal level and as they are changed states look to do the same. That is why it is important to watch and act on what is taking place to insure that as we work to improve salaries of library workers these issues will not be blockers to our efforts. Ann is also right that when workers in the private sector make more, there is a stronger tax base which helps those of us in the public sector. It is a basic theory in economics. And she is also right that AFSCME and other unions have already organized workers in the private sector. As I stated, I worked on the Harvard organizing drive and today AFSCME represents workers in the libraries at Harvard who are covered by the NLRB.
Beyond that, I would share these thoughts with you. First, I dont know if any of you have ever heard the term an injury to one is an injury to all but it is a common thread of thought within unions. And for me, if this has a negative impact on any library worker it has an impact on all of us within ALA. It is pretty basic. All members of ALA are not public sector librarians. ALA is an organization for all library workers and it is time that we start thinking about those in libraries who are not librarians in public libraries. If we want to continue to grow as an organization, we need to understand that all of the members of ALA need to be included.
Another area that we are missing when we look at these resolutions through Michaels eyes is the issue of advocacy and coalition building as a means of moving forward with a better salaries agenda. Folks, it is obvious that we can not and will not be able to do this alone. We need to reach out and work with others. Part of reaching out is to identify who can help us. As the President of AFSCME Council 93, I had 6 staff members whose job it was to be at the state houses in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts to lobby for our workers.&nb sp; That included issue important to those members who worked in libraries. I also had the ability to pick up the phone and call President McIntee in Washington and ask that he assign staff from AFSCMEs headquarters to work on issues important to my members. But equally important, as a Vice President of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, I could also count on the other members of the Mass AFL-CIO to have their staff help when I asked. But, in turn, I never failed to offer AFSCMEs assistance when they needed our help. One example that I can give you is when the State and Community College budget was hung up for a couple of sessions, I asked for the assistance of all of the unions at the Mass AFL-CI O and along with the Mass. AFL-CIO President Bob Haynes, they were at the state house in Boston meeting with legislators and working to get the vote to insure that the raises of my members went through. As a member of the AFL-CIOs Executive Board, I was also part of their political caucus and we would send letters to the state reps and senators informing them that an upcoming vote was a labor vote and that any endorsement from our body would be weight against how their voting record matched up with our labor votes. If I had an issue coming before the state legislature that I wanted considered for recognition as a labor vote, I only had to pick up the phone and call President Haynes and it was done. And in some cases, before I could make that call, he would notice something on the agenda at the state house that he thought involved the library and wo uld call me to ask if we needed any help from him. By the way, President Haynes served on the Associates of the Boston Public Library during the 90s.
And just as a point of information, AFSCME International in Washington, DC has a number of librarians on their Research Department staff. They are private sector workers and are covered by the NLRB.
As for the second resolution on the issue of overtime, I thought that I have cleaned up the language so that it was not proposed regulations. Both of these resolutions have been in the pipeline for some time and I actually picked them up when I became Chair of the Standing Committee and have been discussing them with the members since then. I dont know if it is possible to make that change on what is printed for the APA Council Session but I will try to get that done. If I cant, maybe a Councilor who is supportive of this resolution will offer an amendment to the wording that will make the correction for me.
I thank all of you for your consideration to the efforts of the committee and look forward to hearing the discussion during the session.
Diane M. Fay, Chair
ALA-APA Standing Committee